A MICHAEL JACKSON statue which used to stand outside of Fulham’s stadium has found its way to another ground in a completely different part of the country.
However, the bust of the controversial pop singer is not on display for fans to see.
EPAThe Michael Jackson stadium was unveiled outside of Craven Cottage in 2011[/caption]
AFPFulham’s former owner Mohamed Al-Fayed blamed the club’s relegation on the removal of the statue[/caption]
It is now almost 250 miles away in the North West of England.
Having been unveiled outside of Craven Cottage in 2011 under the club’s former chairman Mohamed Al-Fayed, fans were left unhappy with its introduction.
One Fulham supporter declared: “We’re a laughing stock. It has nothing to do with football.”
The 6ft 7in statue remained outside the ground for two-and-a-half years – despite Jackson’s only link with Fulham coming when he attended a Division Two game against Wigan in 1999.
Ex-Fulham star Barry Hayles lifted the lid on the “surreal” experience of Jackson greeting the players after the match.
He told the Star: “It was amazing meeting Michael Jackson… I have to say it was strange though. A lot of people thought it wasn’t actually him but it definitely was.
“He was a character in himself, I remember him walking along the line saying ‘great game’ to the whole squad but only 14 of us played, not the 30 he said it to!”
However, the Cottagers were then relegated from the Premier League in 2014, with Al-Fayed pinning the change of fortunes on the removal of the statue.
He said: “When the new owner decided to move it I said: ‘Fine, it is a lucky thing, you will regret it later.’ Now the new owner will regret it because I warned him.
“I said: ‘You will pay with blood for that,’ because it was something loved by people. It was a big mistake but he paid for it now.
“He’s been relegated and if he wakes up he’ll ask for Michael Jackson again and I’ll say: ‘No way.’”
Al-Fayed reclaimed possession of the statue before donating it to the National Football Museum in Manchester, where it remained on display until 2019.
It was finally removed with the airing of an expose documentary Leaving Neverland, though the museum insisted the decision to remove the statue had been planned months ago.
Fast forward to 2023, the statue’s whereabouts were unknown, until Manchester Evening News approached the museum to find out where it had gone.
Their investigation revealed that the bust was now in storage at Deepdale, the home of Preston North End, some 232.5 miles from its original home in south-west London.